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Sigh - Infidel Art CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.68 | 35 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars SIGH's connection to the world of second wave black metal is in many ways more circumstantial than musically related but throughout its multi-decade career and indeed displaying some of the characteristics that the Norwegian scene delivered in abundance, the band has continued to evolve its unique hybridization effect that really took off on this second album. The discovery of this band can be attributed to Euronymous of Mayhem, one of Norway's premiere forces of black metal terror that the world wasn't ready for. After hearing this bizarre hybrid of musical styles that mixed European black metal with symphonic and classical elements enshrouded in the avant-garde, Euronymous quickly signed the fledgling act to his infamous Deathlike Silence Records where the trio of Mirai Kawashima (vocals, bass, keyboards), Shinichi Ishikawa (guitars) and Satoshi Fujinami (drums, percussion) released the debut album "Scorn Defeat" but to the band's dismay Euryonymous would soon die and the label would go down in flames with him.

Back the drawing board but having gained some momentum with a single release due to the band's early idiosyncrasies that easily stood out amongst the burgeoning packs filling up the wolf's den and found a new home on the British based Cacophonous Records where they would soon release the second album INFIDEL ART. The fact is that SIGH has never truly fit into the black metal scene even from the very beginning but on "Infidel Art" it was obviously that they had no interest in trying to adapt to that cookie-cutter description and instead opted to explore a wide new arena of possibilities and in the process of going down this path has become one of Japan's most interesting bands to exist within the greater metal paradigm with one album after another showing yet another distinct persona that never seems to find an end to the variations and experimental touches that this band has nurtured every step of the way.

While still generally dropped into the black metal category for convenience's sake, INFIDEL ART doesn't exude the typical rage and boisterous angst that the early 90s delivered in the second wave scene. Instead it mixes the elements of black metal that include the filthy raw guitar distortion and raspy vocal style with Western classical infusions that offer long drawn out symphonic piano motifs with many moments more reminiscent of Frederic Chopin than anything Darkthrone or Emperor ever created. There is a clear sense of nonchalant meandering on SIGH's second offering especially with the tamped down tempos that offer more glimpses of doom metal than the blackened blastbeats or tremolo picking styles almost ubiquitously implemented in the style of the era. Add to that a clear sense of progressive sensibilities that allowed the compositions to spiral into sophisticated layers of tones, timbres and labyrinthine constructs that eschewed the predictable tritone fury and instead created journeys into a more surreal sonicscape.

With two distinct album slices called "SIde Terror" and "Side Funeral," INFIDEL ART opens with "Izuna" which displays some connections to the black metal world, it doesn't take long for the copious piano rolls and symphonic touches to usurp the existential angst and instead create a lush form of progressive rock. Tracks like "Desolation" get even weirder as it lollygags slowly down a lamenting trajectory at a funeral doom metal's pace only accompanied by lush atmospheric orchestration, classical piano riffs and even eerie theremin sounds creating a haunting vibe. The vocal performances eschew singing for the most part with some sort of declarative poetic prose only half-sung which after listening to this so closely after reviewing Dødheimgard's magnum opus "A Umbra Omega," it becomes perfectly clear exactly where the inspiration behind that album originated from which makes SIGH a significant early band of influential prowess for the avant-garde splintering off bands of the black metal world who also quickly tired of the one-dimensional nature of the most simplistic paradigms and went for the avant-garde jugular.

The longest track "The Last Elegy" at 10 and a half minutes begins like a symphony from the 1700s in all its authenticity before morphing into a doom metal monster that sounds a bit like My Dying Bride only with classical keyboards replacing the lugubrious string sounds of the violin. The track ratchets up both the metal and symphonic touches as well as becoming more progressive with a continuing parade of musical motifs building intensity with interesting call and response vocal sections as well as a more upbeat Black Sabbath guitar riffing section. The album continues with not one but TWO more tracks that just miss the ten minute mark with a continuation of the classical music motifs fortified by both doom and black metal styles all decked out symphonic touches and progressive build ups that explode into thundering climactic resolutions. I've never considered INFIDEL ART to be one of SIGH's best works but after a few more listens lately this album has gotten under my skin and for those who aren't black metal purists and appreciate the dexterity of genre juggling so perfectly performed then you can't go wrong with this album. Not quite as adventurous as some of the future albums but what this album lacks in sheer diversity of musical styles, it more than makes up for in top notch compositions that find the perfect balance between beautiful melodies and metal bombast although tamped down to the doom metal variety for the majority of the album's run.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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